UPDATES WITH MORE DETAILS, TOURISM MINISTRY DATA
By Tuba Sahin
ANKARA (AA) - Turkish tourism revenues hit $34.5 billion in 2019, a new record high, the country's statistical authority said Friday.
The figure jumped 17% last year, up from $29.5 billion in 2018, the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) reported.
The average expenditure per capita stood at $666 in 2019, up from $647 a year ago.
Data showed that visitors spent the most on food and beverages (nearly $1.1 billion), and accommodation ($1 billion) last year.
"In this year, while foreign visitors came to Turkey mostly for 'travel, entertainment, sportive and cultural activities' with 73.6%, Turkish citizens resident abroad visited mostly for 'visiting relatives and friends' with 61.7%," it said.
The country welcomed 51.9 million visitors last year, a rise of 13.7% from the previous year, made up of 86.2% foreigners and 13.8% Turkish citizens residing abroad, TurkStat said.
Separately, The Culture and Tourism Ministry announced that foreigner visits to Turkey surged 14.1% on an annual basis, surpassing 45 million last year.
Istanbul, Turkey's world-famous touristic city, was the top arriving destination with nearly 15 million tourists, accounting for 33% of all foreign visitors in 2019.
The Mediterranean resort city of Antalya followed it with 14.65 million foreign visitors last year.
The third top arriving destination was the northwestern province of Edirne, which borders both Bulgaria and Greece, welcoming some 4.3 million foreigners.
As for the nationalities of foreign visitors, Russia took first place with 15.6% -- some 7 million visitors -- over the same period, followed by Germany (11.2% or 5 million) and Bulgaria (6% or 2.7 million).